Help! Will My Past Prevent Me From Becoming A Pharmacy Technician?

pharmacy-tech-dui-felony

In this article...

Pharmacy technicians do a very important job. They show up every day, ready to measure and dispense medication that helps to keep the people in their community fit and well. 

And with all those drugs around, it makes sense that employers are a little picky over who they hire.

But what if your record is less than squeaky clean? Does that mean your dreams of a career in pharmacy tech are over?

Well, the PTCB does conduct a background check on all of its applicants. But that doesn’t mean that a criminal record automatically disqualifies you from PTCB certification.

So, read on if you want to find out whether your past is likely to prevent you from becoming a pharmacy tech:

Why is PTCB certification important?

Opening up about your criminal record is a big ask. And you might be wondering whether the PTCB certification is worth sharing these details of your life. 

But did you know that 24 states, including Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming, actually require that a person is certified in order for them to work as a pharmacy technician? 

And even in states where national certification isn’t mandatory, it’s often preferred by employers?

Luckily, the PTCB certificate is accepted in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. So it’s no surprise that it’s the preferred qualification for pharmacy techs country-wide.

Psst! If you want to test your knowledge before taking your exam, you can try our  PTCB practice test for free here.

But will they accept your application if you have a criminal record?

I have a criminal record – can I get certified by the PTCB?

That’s a great question… Unfortunately,  it doesn’t have a simple answer.

You see, a criminal record won’t necessarily prevent you from getting certified by the PTCB. But a background check is an essential part of your application. 

So, how does it work? Well the PTCB will consider:

  • The relationship of the criminal activity to your professional activities and/or ethical responsibilities
  • The severity of the matter (this includes looking at whether anyone was hurt, or whether any property was damaged)
  • The amount of time that has passed since the criminal or disciplinary matter
  • The ‘imposition and completion of any court, agency, or organizational conditions and/or requirements related to the criminal or disciplinary matter’
  • Whether what happened is part of a pattern of criminal, unethical, or general improper conduct.

In order to decide if you’re:

  • Eligible for certification
  • Temporarily disqualified from certification
  • Permanently disqualified from certification
  • Subject to eligibility conditions


But what if you work in a state that doesn’t strictly require certification? Can you get away with keeping those skeletons firmly in the closet?

Do employers conduct a background check on Pharmacy Technicians?

So, you did something illegal and got caught. But you were young and it’s all in the past. 

Look, we get it, everyone has done things they regret. And we understand that it’s tempting to hide the things we’re not proud of. Especially when it comes to potential employers.

But is it possible to keep your criminal record under wraps?

Well, let’s imagine that you live in a state that doesn’t strictly require certification. Maybe you’re tempted to avoid sitting the PTCB exam altogether? 

That way no one needs to know about your record, right?

Not exactly. In fact, avoiding taking the PTCB test because you have a criminal record is a bad idea for two reasons:

  1. The PTCB certificate makes you much more hirable (remember, it’s accepted in all 50 states).
  2. Your employer will conduct a background check on you anyway.

Yep, that’s right. While the need to carry out background checks on employees isn’t specifically mentioned in federal law, pharmacy registrants are not allowed to employ someone who has been convicted of a felony relating to controlled dangerous substances (CDS) in a position that provides access to CDS.

And this federal requirement makes background checks pretty much mandatory.

OK, so we’ve established that applying for PTCB certification is the best course of action, even if you have a history of criminal charges.

But what exactly does the background check cover?

What is covered in a Pharmacy Technician background check?

The PTCB is pretty thorough in its background check. And that makes sense. After all, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board doesn’t want to endorse people who pose a risk to their employers or the public.

But what exactly do you have to disclose?

Well, according to the PTCB website:

Candidates are required to disclose any and all criminal matters of which they are the subject, including but not limited to, investigations or discipline by a government agency or other authority such as a State Board of Pharmacy, a professional association, or a credentialing organization.

This includes a detailed explanation of what happened and all the related documents issued by a court, a government agency or other authority, a professional association, or a credentialing organization that explains the disposition and resolution of the matter.

But before you fill out your disclosure, you probably want to know if you are likely to be accepted, right?

So let’s take a closer look:

Can you become a Pharmacy Technician with a misdemeanor?

OK, so before we talk about misdemeanors, it’s important to note that the PTCB assesses candidates with misdemeanors on a case-by-case basis.

This means that declaring a misdemeanor won’t necessarily be a barrier to getting your license. 

You see, the PTCB is concerned with mitigating risk. They want to ensure that the people they certify won’t use their position to commit crimes. And this means that a long history of misdemeanors, that continues to the present day, isn’t viewed in quite the same way as a single offense committed 10 years ago! 

Now we can’t tell you the outcome of your individual application. But if you can demonstrate that you’re no longer at risk of committing misdemeanors, you are likely to be OK.

Of course, it makes sense that some misdemeanors are seen as riskier in a potential pharmacy technician than others. It’s a line of work that involves handling controlled substances after all. 

So what happens if you have a DUI?

Will my DUI stop me from being a Pharmacy Tech?

OK, let’s not beat around the bush: having a DUI isn’t viewed positively by the PTCB. 

I mean, driving under the influence doesn’t paint a positive picture of your relationship with drugs and/or alcohol.

That being said, it doesn’t automatically disqualify you from PTCB certification. And, as with other misdemeanors, the PTCB will consider your individual circumstances when making a decision.

But what if your background includes a felony? 

Let’s take a look.

Can you be a Pharmacy Tech with a felony?

Felony charges are by nature more serious than misdemeanors. They carry tougher punishments and are often treated with more caution by people conducting background checks.

But that doesn’t mean PTCB certification is necessarily a pipe dream.

As with misdemeanors, the people assessing your case will consider the nature of your crime, how long ago it happened, and what has happened since.

So, before you discount your dream career, why not contact the PTCB for some advice based on your individual circumstances?

And don’t forget, you need to pass an exam as well as a background check in order to get your certificate.

Luckily, our PTCB Hero study guide is here to help no matter what your past holds!

Michelle Jones
Michelle Jones

Michelle is Medical Hero's in-house expert on the PTCB exam and pharmacy technician careers.